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Carnival Cruise vs Norwegian Cruise Lines
Old 08-02-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
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Carnival Cruise vs Norwegian Cruise Lines

So, I will have a direct comparison of both cruise lines as I have booked back-to-back Caribbean cruises leaving Miami this January/February.
I am accompanying a friend on the NCL ship Epic for a 7 day caribbean cruise. Originally I had intended on staying a few days before the cruise in Florida with my DH. But the last week in January is cold in Florida and I saw a cheap 5 day cruise option to Jamaica/Cayman islands offered by Carnival which would be about the same cost as hotel/meals in Florida. We went on a cheap Carnival cruise to Mexico this spring and I know that Carnival has been disparaged on some forums as the "K-mart" of cruise lines...but we had a good time, so I booked again.
My friend and I are booked in the cheapest cabin on NCL for a week and my husband and I booked a balcony cabin on Carnival.
The interior cabin on NCL is offered for 1718 double occupancy (fee/taxes/gratuities) for 7 days ($245 per day) and the 5 day Carnival cruise is offered for 1198$ (240$ per day). About the same price. I'm curious how to two cruise lines compare. Anyone been on both? Your thoughts....
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:44 AM   #2
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I have been on both lines several times and the only difference I saw was NCL's entertainment is much better than Carnival . Doesn't the Epic have the Blue Man Group ? The Epic is NCL's largest ship so depending on how new your Carnival ship is you may notice a big difference. Plus NCL has a lot of separate charge dining options . I like both lines .
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:58 AM   #3
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The NCL cruise is a theme cruise booked through an agent so my friend and I paid more than the lowest price because it included special events/shows. I don't mind being in the interior room because much of my time will be spent with my friend participating in the musical events. With the Carnival cruise however much time will be spent on our balcony, like we did on our last cruise. My DH likes that style of vacation and is not that keen on many shows/activities. So I've booked two different cruises for two different reasons.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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And yes, I will see the Blue Man group on the Epic...I have always wantd to see them!
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:04 AM   #5
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We were fans of Celebrity until we went on NCL, and some 12 cruises later have never looked back. We love NCL for the service and free-style dining option (we normally eat dinner at 5:30).
We were on Carnival one time, and did not like it (service not as good, food was bland)...and we sat with another family where the father moaned and groaned the entire time about how much it all cost.
But I know many people who love Carnival. I think all cruise lines are similar, and it's the fine nuances and individual tastes that makes one prefer one to another.
For us, we'll stay with NCL.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:20 AM   #6
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.
My friend and I are booked in the cheapest cabin on NCL for a week and my husband and I booked a balcony cabin on Carnival.
The interior cabin on NCL is offered for 1718 double occupancy (fee/taxes/gratuities) for 7 days ($245 per day) and the 5 day Carnival cruise is offered for 1198$ (240$ per day). About the same price. I'm curious how to two cruise lines compare. Anyone been on both? Your thoughts....

January is usually a cheap time to cruise so I would watch for price drops especially for the five day cruise.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:45 AM   #7
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hmmmmmm... WE didn't care for EITHER of those. Loved Princess. And have a trip planned in Dec on Oceania - a mid sized cruise line instead of the mega monster ships.

Carnival was a trip to Mexico out of LA and FULL of drunk collegians. Too close to spring break, I presume.

NCL was out of Barcelona, western Med cruise. Older ship that USED to cruise Hawaii. King Kamehameha's statue still graced the main dining room. Ouch. Also, must have had a COMPLETELY green crew - food orders were mixed (it was a topic of conversation I overheard walking to/from dinner - NOT just our own experience) - not only BETWEEN DW and me, but also between tables. We collectively gave up and trade orders between tables. Ship also needed some maintenance... a piece of railing on one deck was replaced with a 2x4. Seriously.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:54 AM   #8
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Carnival was a trip to Mexico out of LA and FULL of drunk collegians. Too close to spring break, I presume.
Did you have to pay extra for that, or was it included in the base price ?

Seriously though, we like all of the cruise lines. Carnival has a younger crowd that likes to party. We like the energy of the exuberance.

Some of the top-line cruise lines have great food and great service, but are oh so sedate to the point of being somewhat boring.

We have been on many lines and like all of them. Perhaps though the mid-price lines like Princess and Royal Caribbean have the best mix of energy and service.

We like best though the cruise line that is on sale for the time and destination that fits us. They are all good in their own way. There really isn't a bad one.

A cruise is always a great vacation.
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:54 AM   #9
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We've been on both, and were on the Epic for our NCL cruise, just as you will be.

Carnival had great food, entertainment. The ship was packed and the decor was tacky. The cruisers were more the Walmart crowd, but we had a good time and the ship was high energy.

NCL is more refined. The Blue Man Group and the Cirque-type shows were both excellent and highly recommended. The Epic's cabins are a bit different, with fake woodgrain, curved wall, and cove lighting - very stylish. But restroom layout is unusual (more of a curtain and then a toilet room). We kind of liked the cabin overall, but have read that those wanting privacy sometimes don't, according to reviews. We thought the Epic had a particularly good buffet.

We found NCL's tour prices to run 2-3x more than the already bloated prices on Princess, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. We ended up doing all of our tours ourselves due to this (we were in the Mediterranean). NCL seemed to be even more intent than most lines to nickel and dime you.

Given all that, we'd still choose NCL over Carnival. Be sure to post after your trip and let us know what you thought!
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:12 AM   #10
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Been on NCl we were pleased. Only complaint was lack of ping pong balls.. The shows were awesome. Most of them were middle road Vegas quality. Our next cruise will be on a luxury cruise line. We were looking for a bit more luxury on our cruise. Not saying we didnt get our money's worth. Just wanted more


Oh freestyle dining was great!
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Old 08-10-2012, 05:15 AM   #11
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Like so many different topics in so many diferent forums (how about a Ford vs Chevy truck agrument?) - there is NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER. It becomes personal preference. And tne same person can have different preferences at different times. That, too, is allowed. It is all about choice. Enjoy!!!
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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Can someone enlighten me about freestyle? How is the dining different?
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:18 AM   #13
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hmmmmmm... WE didn't care for EITHER of those.
+1

Maybe it's because we're older and have had the good fortune to travel, along with cruise itinary's outside of the U.S.

For us, the Euro River Cruises are our number one pick, both in size, service, and ease of travel, regardless of provider.

For the larger ships (non-river), we find Silversea Silversea Cruises Official Site | Discover the Ultimate Luxury Cruise Vacation as our perferred "vendor" of choice.

For someone who is just getting around to taking a cruise, there is no "best answer"; it's driven by your experience vs. your expectations. You made your plan/reservations, so go and have some fun.

If it dosen't work out to your expectations? Then try another line in the future.

It's a bit like drinking Scotch, IMHO. It takes a bit of time, effort, and a bit of money until you find a "brand" that suits your needs.

Regardless - have fun!....
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:24 AM   #14
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"Freestyle" simply means that you dine when and with whom you wish.
In the OLD style, you were ASSIGNED a table / time and dined with the same folks each time. Not good if you don't like them!

Freestyle is more like a restaurant.

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Can someone enlighten me about freestyle? How is the dining different?
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:33 AM   #15
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Not good if you don't like them!
You can certainly change dining table/partners, if you wish. We have done that (more than once) in the past, before we understood that we were not "social cruise folks".

And (like us), you can request a single table for just the two of you at the time of booking, if you perfer to just enjoy each other, which we tend to do.

As for "freestyle - NCL"? It did not suit us. While you don't have a set time, you also are not guaranteed a seat at a certain time. We made prior reservations, but the times always "slipped" and we stood waiting in line the first two times (before we booked our meal at one of the theme resturants, at a much higher price). This is a bit of a problem if you have plans based upon a certain time, be it catching an early show or meeting folks for after dinner drinks or hitting the casino. Sure, you can "dine" at the buffet (ugh) or at the many "fast food" places around the ship, but it's just not our "style". After the second day on NCL, we booked the rest of our dinners at one of the "theme" resturants, but of course you are paying a preimum for a meal that you should have been provided in the first place, IMHO.

For younger folks that have no set schedule? It's probably fine. For older "coots" that wear a tux and plan their evening? It might be a slight problem.

BTW, if you do have a set time and seat, your wait staff will get to know you after your second meal. They will have your drink of preference available immediately (be it water, ice tea, soda, spririts, or wine) as soon as you take your seat.

They will also know what preferences you have in food (for me, it's two appetizers of escargot) without even have to ordering. They will also be aware of any "quirks", such as me not having desert (diabetic) or having the availability of a special treat (for me? Steak Tartare) even if it's not on the menu. You don't get that with "Freestyle", where your waitstaff is different for every meal.

Let's just say that we have "been there - done that".

It all depends (as everything else is, in life)...
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:04 AM   #16
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. but of course you are paying a preimum for a meal that you should have been provided in the first place, IMHO.
AGREE WITH THAT!!

We, too, prefer the non-freestyle dining, for the reason you said. On the Alaskan cruise (Princess) we were with a church group and our waitress was a lovely young woman from South Africa. We TRULY enjoyed getting to know here during our 10 days, and (as you said) she got to knos us as well. That really improved the cruise in our eyes.

OTOH, we have friends who took both a Hawaiian and a Caribbean cruise and LOVED the freestyle. Like you said... personal preferences.

(because we were with a group, we did not have to ASK to be reseated. Did not know it was that easy. Will remember that!!)
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:18 PM   #17
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We are leaving tomorrow (Saturday) out of Tampa on a 5-day Carnival cruise to the Western Caribbean (Grand Caymen and Cozumel). The total cost including insurance (purchased for the health insurance) is $1175. A friend is driving us over so no parking fees either!

We have a $50 room credit because I purchased a $100 voucher on our last cruise in March that I used to pay for this cruise. Nothing fancy. Just a nice little getaway for a few days to celebrate DH's 63rd b'day which is today.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:48 PM   #18
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Hey Buckeye, your DH and I share the same birthday (I just hit 60) !
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